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Freshman Seminar Guidelines

Writing Committee Guidelines for Freshman Seminars with a "W" Designation

The following guidelines for freshman seminars have been endorsed by the Writing Committee and the Educational Policy Committee:

1. All instructors offering freshman seminars for the lower-division writing credit are required to submit an online Proposal Form to the Writing Committee  no later than the 6th week of the semester preceding the semester in which the seminar will be taught.

Faculty repeating a previously-approved course must submit the online form and simply indicate that they intend to offer the course again for writing credit and what significant changes, if any, have been made.

In certain cases, such as new hires or changes in teaching assignments that take place after the week-6 deadline, online forms must be submitted to the Writing Committee as soon as possible with the understanding that the committee may require revisions once it has reviewed the course proposal.

2. To satisfy the lower-division writing requirement, a course must:

A. Offer sufficient time for discussion of writing. Such discussions may take place as in-class writing workshops, peer review exercises, individual conferences, etc. The committee requires that a grammar and style handbook be adopted for use in the seminar (passed by EPC and Faculty Assembly on May 5, 2004).

B. Allow for repeated opportunities to write. These opportunities might take several forms including weekly reaction papers, periodic response papers, multiple drafts of a single paper, etc.

C. Require at least 6000 words (24 pages) of writing.  The committee recommends that at least half (10-12 pages) be formal, analytic writing; the rest might include a variety of assignments--rough drafts of formal papers, in-class essays, research logs, etc.--provided these are commented on by the instructor.  The committee defines "formal" writing as that which requires students' mastery of formal concerns--paragraph development, mechanics, style, etc.--as well as mastery of a content or method.  Response papers, for example, might count as either formal or informal writing depending on whether individual instructors consider formal concerns in their evaluations.

D. Allow at least one opportunity to re-write work based on instructor feedback.

E. Require an introduction to research methods appropriate to the subject. Although a research paper based on secondary sources is not required, the committee strongly recommends introducing first-year students to Swem library resources. This introduction may take the form of a library orientationby one of the reference librarians based on the content area of the seminar.

3. The Writing Committee will send a list of approved seminars to the registrar. Approved seminars should be listed in the bulletin with a "W" designation (e.g. GOVT 150W) and a description indicating that the course satisfies the lower-division writing requirement. Departments should make sure this description is printed below each writing-intensive section/course:

Any student who receives a "C-" or better in an approved course will have satisfied the lower-division writing requirement. Any student who has not already satisfied the writing proficiency requirement and who receives a grade below "C-" in the course will still have to satisfy the requirement.

4. The Writing Committee will be happy to assist departments in reviewing the courses they offer to satisfy both parts of the writing proficiency requirement.

Please submit all proposals to the Writing Committee via the online form.

If you have any questions, contact Sharon Zuber, Writing Committee Chair, at [[slzube]] or 221-3939